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Ocient raises $50 million for more energy efficient data processing

The company’s expanded round will help it move into the utility segment, said investor Buoyant Ventures.

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Photo credit: Matthias Balk / picture alliance via Getty Images

Photo credit: Matthias Balk / picture alliance via Getty Images

Ocient, a hyperscale data analytics company focused on the economy’s biggest data users, announced today that it has extended its Series B funding round with an additional $49.4 million. The money brings the company’s total funding to $119 million.

  • The top line: The extra cash will help Ocient expand its energy efficient database software, including into the utility sector. Utilities represent a key customer vertical as they expand their use of artificial intelligence and double down on geospatial data, which typically require more energy consumption than other workloads.
  • The market grounding: Data centers are among the top drivers of load growth today, and the skyrocketing need for compute demand thanks to the AI boom has many in the energy industry concerned about the grid’s ability to keep up. Ocient says its architecture reduces energy consumption by 90%, compared to typical hyperscale data analytics systems. 
  • The current take: Amy Francetic, co-founder and managing general partner of Buoyant Ventures, which invested in Ocient, said the company will look to run pilots with utilities. “Ocient is typically winning customers by competing against a solution provider that the customer is already using,” Francetic explained. “The hope is that by introducing Ocient, they’ll be able to run pilots on a small sample of [a utility’s] data, and show what the performance can be in order to build confidence and might be able to take on more of their business.”
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Transition-AI: Can the Grid Handle AI’s Power Demand? | May 8 @ 1 pm ET

Are growing concerns over AI’s power demand justified? Hear from Latitude Media's Stephen Lacey and industry-leading experts as they address the energy needs of hyperscale computing, driven by artificial intelligence.

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Ocient’s data platform targets hyperscale workloads that involve massive amounts of data, like machine learning and artificial intelligence. The platform is optimized for the geospatial and spatiotemporal data — like weather, environmental conditions, and real-time sensor data — that is particularly relevant to the energy transition.

Two key elements contribute to the Ocient’s reduced energy consumption, CEO Chris Gladwin said. First, the startup’s system combines compute and storage, reducing the total number of servers needed. The company also reduces energy use in the process of ensuring data accuracy and reliability. While that often requires creating duplicates of data and storing it in multiple locations (therefore driving up cost and energy consumption), Ocient uses a form of zero copy integration that it says requires just 20% the storage space of copy-based systems.

Since emerging from stealth in 2022, Ocient has grown rapidly, and currently has around 150 employees distributed across the United States. Today the company offers three deployment methods — customers can deploy Ocient’s solutions on their own hardware, on public clouds like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud, or opt to host their data in a shared data center in Chicago, where Ocient rents rack space. At this point, Gladwin said, the company doesn’t own its own data centers.

Francetic, at Buoyant, said the firm has been paying particular attention to rising utility concern about the increasing energy needs of data centers — especially because Buoyant’s largest investor is Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.

“As a fund, we’re sort of trying to figure out where we can play,” Francetic said. Buoyant primarily invests in software-based solutions. Ocient’s expertise in managing and analyzing geospatial data was a key factor for Buoyant, she added, because analyzing that type of data is a big need for many of their other portfolio companies.

But of course, Francetic added, Ocient’s potential market segment goes well beyond energy and climate, citing the fact that the database software market today is worth more than $200 billion: “I can tell you that’s a much, much larger market than many climate tech companies are focused on,” she said.

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